Thursday, 3 February 2005

Thanks to Teddy, Chris, Russ, and others

In what is expected to be the final day of debate on the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to the office of Attorney General, while Republicans try to paint Democrats' objections to the nominee as politically motivated, Ted Kennedy summed up what seems obvious to this observer:
We shy away from having a true debate about our values. Stating noble words is a cover for committing to ignoble acts. We need to show that our committment to human dignity is a reality not a slogan. We respect international law. If we do not, who will? The prohibitions against torture serve us well. They protect our soldiers when they go to war. They claim it's politics if we vote against him, but in this case, the only reason to vote for him is politics. Do we stand for the rule of law or do we stand for torture. That is why we should reject this nomination.
I cannot help but believe that many a Republican Senator who is speaking on Gonzales' behalf is privately wishing that Bush had chosen someone far less controversial, as they must be cringing inside to justify his qualifications. The lone Republican on the judiciary committee truly expressing trepidation, was not the moderate Specter, but rather Lindsey Graham from the very red state of South Carolina who had this exchange with Gonzales in committee:
"I think we've dramatically undermined the war effort by getting on a slippery slope in terms of playing cute with the law," Graham, a reserve Air Force JAG officer, says. He adds later, "And I think you weaken yourself as a nation when you try to play cute and become more like your enemy instead of like who you want to be."

Gonzales senses that Graham has made a mistake and seizes on it. "We are nothing like our enemy, Senator," he protests. They behead people, like Danny Pearl and Nick Berg. Graham notes that this is a pretty low moral standard for America to aspire to. I agree that we're nothing like the enemy, he says. "But we're not like who we want to be and who we have been." During Graham's second round of questioning, Gonzales tells him that government lawyers did the very best they could when they wrote the memo. "Well that's where you and I disagree," Graham retorts. "I think they did a lousy job."
Political pressure was the order of the day, and Graham did vote to advance his nomination, but his words put the lie to the notion that Democratic objections to Alberto are petty partisan politics. Indeed those objections are felt by Republicans - even conservative Republicans - as well.

Christopher Dodd today (forgive possible inaccuracies in the quotation) said:
The right to be free from torture has been a fundamental value of our nation. This has never been in doubt. It has never been seriously debated. Always considered to be intrinsic, founded on our belief that all persons are endowed with certain inalienable rights. Judge Gonzales has stood in conflict with laws and treaties, and helped shaped those policies to the great detriment of our standing in the world.
while Feingold weighed in with
[In] Judge Gonzales' appearance before the Judiciary Committee, he failed to indicate that he would be bound by the rule of law. He reiterated erroneous interpretations on the effect of the Geneva Convention, and refused time after time to repudiate the conclusion that the president has power to immunize those under his direction.
Many other fine words were spoken today, sadly almost strictly on a partisan split. We should thank our Senators who have the conviction to oppose this nominee.


-epm said...

I called my senators, but they're both Republican and neither is up for election in '06 so I don't think they really care what I think. But I have a long and vengeful memory... :) I'm pleased to see such a strong showing by the Dems, however.

It boggles the mind (well, my mind anyway) that a person like Gonzales -- who has used his not insignificant intellect pursuing ways to circumvent the rule of law -- is now in place as the chief guardian of the rule of law in the United States. In a town where torture is merely "interrogation" and faith passes as fact, we are in deep doo-doo.

AC said...

What now, Walker?
This consistency of defeat of liberal causes is getting depressing.

-epm said...

Gonzales' confirmation, sadly, was almost a foregone conclusion. I didn't expect Republicans to break ranks mere days into their president's second term. Certainly not for a cabinet position that will expire in four years... or less. The fact that the Democrates stayed as united as they did in their opposition to Gonzales is encouraging. I see this as portending well for progressive causes, and not as a defeat.

Look for the real fight to occur over such things as social security deconstruction and supreme court appointments.